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First published in 1971, ‘‘Blues Ain’t No Mockin Bird’’ was included the following year in Toni Cade Bambara’s highly acclaimed first collection of short stories, Gorilla, My Love. Like most of Bambara’s stories, ‘‘Blues Ain’t No Mockin Bird’’ features strong African-American female characters and reflects social and political issues of particular concern to the contemporary African-American community. In the story, the young female narrator is playing with her neighbors and cousin at her grandmother’s house. Two white filmmakers, shooting a film ‘‘about food stamps’’ for the county, lurk near their yard. The narrator’s grandmother asks them to leave: not heeding her request, they simply move farther away. When Granddaddy Cain returns from hunting a chicken hawk, he takes the camera from the men and smashes it. Cathy, the distant cousin of the narrator, displays a precocious ability to interpret other people’s actions and words as well as an interest in storytelling and writing. Her intelligence and ambition echo Bambara’s own accomplishments as well as the larger African-American storytelling tradition.

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Children are playing in a front yard. The twin boys from next door, Tyrone and Terry, are on the tire swing, while the narrator and her cousin, Cathy, jump and dance on a frozen puddle. The narrator’s grandmother is on the back porch, ladling rum over the Christmas cakes she has baked. Near the house, in a meadow, are two men who have been there...

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